A. Doering, C. Miller, C. Scharber

University of Minnesota (UNITED STATES)
Feedback is widely discussed in many areas within the academic literature ranging from research on praise (Wilkinson, 1981) to rewards (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001) to learning goals and activities (Haas, 2005). We believe the nature of feedback should align with the nature of the task. In this paper we challenge designers, researchers, teachers, and students to re-assess and re-envision the value of feedback by illustrating the innovative roles feedback and e-assessment play in the design of two contemporary web-based learning environments we have designed and developed that are being used by millions of learners – AvenueASL and GeoThentic.

The AvenueASL e-assessment environment was designed to establish (a) a platform for students to capture, submit, and archive American Sign Language video performances, (b) a setting for instructors to evaluate and report student performance and feedback, (c) a portfolio where students can monitor their personal performance and feedback, and (d) an administration component to manage and coordinate performance evaluation and feedback data.

GeoThentic is an online scaffolded learning environment that assists teachers and students to integrate geospatial technologies in the K-12 classroom for teaching and learning geography. The environment was built on the foundation of TPACK and real-time feedback (Authors 2b). GeoThentic creates opportunities for students to learn and teachers to teach geography with geospatial technologies by solving authentic complex problems within an online environment (Authors 2b).

We have identified four common threads that we believe enhanced the design and implementation of each assessment environment:

1. Type and Communication: We encourage teachers and designers to think beyond the use of traditional scoring and textual comments when developing a plan for student feedback. When applicable, we believe that feedback should exist as evolving communication between teachers and students (i.e. a feedback package or portfolio), as opposed to a disparate instance of notification. Additionally, feedback does not necessarily end with the student audience; designers should explore options to include teachers, parents, and other parties of interest in the use and communication of feedback.

2. Theoretically Grounding: Instructional designers often design and develop learning environments that attempt to teach content, but are not theoretically grounded to provide the necessary user-support. We need to move beyond simply talking about what we should do as designers and begin designing and developing learning environments that are grounded in our theoretical research.

3. Alignment with goals and the nature of the task: When applicable, teachers and designers should align feedback with goal setting through clear descriptions of student goals and expectations (Marzano, 2007).

4. Scaffolding through sense-making tools: Finally, we suggest that designers develop and implement tools that help teachers, students, and parents make sense of formative and summative feedback. These tools can exist in the form of simplified graphs, interactive visualizations, or case-based scenarios of progress. By scaffolding teacher, student, and parent understanding of feedback, we anticipate enhanced opportunities for gaining valuable insight in reflection, diagnosis, and problem-solving.